An Immensely Complex Image: Conceptions of the Turk in English Narratives of the 1683 Siege of Vienna
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Using English accounts of the Ottoman Empire's 1683 siege of Vienna, including monographs, ballads, poems, and pamphlets, this paper examines the ways in which the English viewed the Turk in the late seventeenth century. My exploration of these descriptions of the siege reveal that the English depiction of the Turk exhibited a multifaceted complexity beyond a straightforward negative image. In the English vision the fearsomeness and might of the Turk is balanced by the attribution of adverse aspects, such as arrogance and weakness of will. I suggest this characterization served to suppress English concern regarding the power and influence of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman defeat at the siege, then, served as the context in which the English were able to keep their awareness of Ottoman supremacy and strength in check.